From Amazon's website: "Fans of romance don't need to look any further than the fauxmance brewing between teen idols Charlie Tracker and Fielding Withers-known on their hit TV show as Jenna and Jonah, next-door neighbors flush with the excitement of first love. But it's their off-screen relationship that has helped cement their fame, as passionate fans follow their every PDA. They grace the covers of magazines week after week. Their fan club has chapters all over the country. The only problem is their off-screen romance is one big publicity stunt, and Charlie and Fielding can't stand to be in the same room. Still, it's a great gig, so even when the cameras stop rolling, the show must go on, and on, and on. . . . Until the pesky paparazzi blow their cover, and Charlie and Fielding must disappear to weather the media storm. It's not until they're far off the grid of the Hollywood circuit that they realize that there's more to each of them than shiny hair and a winning smile."
Honestly, I've spent the last hour or so looking for an author's site that has a description of this book and trying to choose between a rating of a five or a six. As you can probably see, I've settled on a six for now, but I'm still not sure.
One of the problems about books that are written from two points of view (like Nick and Norah's Infinite Playlist or Jenna and Jonah's Fauxmance) is that I normally end up liking one character more, sympathizing with them more, and rooting for one character over another. In this book, Jenna (or Charlie) is the definite winner to me. Shallow, petty, ambitious, slightly vapid, she still comes across as an individual who's actively trying to find out what she's good at. She's not content to sit idly watching life go by her. She's grasping sadly at everything around her, trying to make herself a better or more successful actor. Fielding (or Aaron, and let me just suggest to you that you don't throw a name change on a character who already has the feel of having two names), on the other hand, seemed to feel that his life plan would fall in his lap, and it annoyed me to no end. Fielding seems to want to act only because other people around him keep telling him to do so but he takes no initiative to stop acting besides not correcting a rumor and lie being spread about him.
While I enjoyed several sections of the book on their own, I felt the moves in setting were a little strange and did not go smoothly for my reading. I think the whole thing could have benefited greatly from a little more time on their original show as Jenna and Jonah and perhaps further in their fake relationship, but that is barely touched upon before the move is made to their isolation. Just as quickly, it's moved again away from that and fully half the book takes place in a setting not even mentioned in any copy I found. Was that a twist, or just poor copy?
Either way, I think more time spent in their fake relationship would have helped to establish a greater enmity between the two. We're tossed one or two "I hate this other person" lines but always with an addendum of "but they're really hot" or "but I really liked them once upon a time" or "but I think we could have been something more" which doesn't make them seem like they dislike each other at all. I think an exploration of their staged relationship would have worked better, because it would have allowed them to really give the reader a feel for the dislike they feel while highlighting the very interesting fact that the authors did bring to it -- the fact that two people who've been in a fake relationship and worked sixteen hour days together for years on end would know each other like no one else has ever known them.
So, since I'm complaining so much in this review, what did I like about Jenna and Jonah's Fauxmance? As I mentioned, Charlie's attempts to find acting skills, fame, and her own identity make her a doer. I almost always love doers in books. People who do shit, whether good or bad, entertain. I don't read books to meet good and kindly characters. I read to be entertained. I loved the brief mentions of scenes from their television show or their contract morality clauses, such as what flavors of ice cream Charlie can be seen consuming in public. While the forced comparison Much Ado About Nothing bothered, the examination of a Shakespeare troupe's reaction to Disneyesque actors is pretty darned hilarious.
Perhaps I'm just too old to enjoy this novel (which read as really young 'young adult') and the wrong target audience even outside the age issue. I never cared about celebrities so much. This novel is much like Twizzlers to me. It's candy that I like while I'm eating, but which I'll ultimately wonder why I ate when there is so much better candy out there.
Verdict: 6. I would give Charlie's (Jenna's) sections a 7 generally, and Fielding's (Jonah's) a 5. Split the difference?
Thoughts: What is up with my run of books recently that have no authors that want to pimp the books on their websites? I'm pulling more than a few book descriptions from Amazon. Yuck.